All in the Pope

today, April 11, in Azerbaijan are scheduled early presidential elections. Actually next to nothing, some six months, but something went wrong and two months ago, the current President Ilham Aliyev decided to move the vote to April. Partly the reason was the political situation, but also external factors certainly played a role. “the” looked into the reasons and possible consequences of premature expression.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in all senses is the heir of his father Heydar Aliyev — first President of the country and absolute authority (no wonder they called him “Dad”). Aliyev rules the country unchallenged since 2003. During this time he had twice re-elected to this post in 2008 and 2013. Every time the President gained no less than 79 percent of the vote, and there is little doubt that on October 17 he will win for the fourth time. But February 5, Aliyev moved the election date for almost six months, and not explaining his decision. Instead, the President gave an explanation his assistant on social and political issues Ali Hasanov.

According to his version, the postponement of the elections is associated with the constitutional reform. In 2016, the country held a referendum on amendments to the Constitution. As a result, the presidential term increased from five to seven years. According to Hasanov, Aliyev decided to hold elections earlier than scheduled in order to obtain a vote of confidence in connection with these changes.

Assistant Aliyev on foreign policy Novruz Mammadov developed the theme of his colleague and called a constitutional reform in the new historical stage. It is not surprising that on the threshold of global changes, the President should clearly understand whether or not the citizens of his course.

This argument would be quite convincing if Aliyev asked voters about the trust immediately after the referendum. However, the postponement of the elections, he said already a year and a half. It would be logical to wait another six months and find out the opinion of the Azerbaijanis in the statutory period — in October 2018. Moreover, the position of 7-year term takes effect after the election, so no point in getting a vote of confidence ahead of time Aliyev was not.

as another argument, Ali Hasanov reminded about the number of major events that will be held in the country since may. And not to combine the campaign with no less important events, the leadership of Azerbaijan decided to hold early elections.

Indeed, from the end of April in Azerbaijan held a number of national and international events. The first will be held in Baku stage of Formula-1, then the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of independence of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic — date, especially revered by the opposition. Scheduled for October Baku international humanitarian forum.

the Desire to relieve the burden of the election campaign in the period of national holidays and major international events is quite clear. However, there are other, more compelling reasons to end the election early.

Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan there was an enormous growth of welfare. In 2003, GDP per capita was less than 5 thousand dollars, and in 2016 — more than 17 thousand. On the stabilization of the political life happened and some conditional liberalization. Ilham Aliyev, though reputed to be an authoritarian leader, however, the degree of rigidity it does not compare with his father — Aliyev senior.

the Relative prosperity of the country provided the oil industry, which gave 77 percent of exports. After the fall of oil prices in 2014, the country faced certain financial difficulties. The weakening of the national currency, reducing the budget revenues, inflation — a situation similar to the one that overcomes today’s Russia.

By the beginning of 2018, the country as a whole, has experienced the consequences of the crisis: oil is sold above budgeted prices, national currency strengthening. However, no one can guarantee that in six months when he was supposed to take place the next elections, the price of oil will collapse again.

Azerbaijani political scientist, expert of the Center for post-Soviet studies IMEMO Farhad Ibragimov sees the features of the internal, primarily economic policy the main reason of postponement of elections. According to him, Azerbaijan faces several social and economic difficulties, including because of falling oil prices. In these circumstances, Aliyev is very important to get support for his policies from the people. On the other hand, it is now the Azerbaijani society sees Aliyev leader, able to solve the problems facing our country.

By the way, the latest polls show that Ilham Aliyev is really the only leader. According to the Center for monitoring “ray”, would vote for him, 83.5 per cent of voters. His nearest opponent gaining only two percent of the vote.

the Postponement of the presidential elections solves another problem — the coincidence of dates with the parliamentary in October 2025. The simultaneous holding of two election campaigns, obviously, will add to political turbulence, which can lead to undesirable risks for the government. In the first place personally for the President. But the early election in April of 2018 is automatically transferred following the presidential campaign of April 2025. Thus, Ilham Aliyev this year in advance strengthens its position in the elections 2025.

It would be strange, speaking about domestic problems in Azerbaijan, not to touch on the theme of Armenia and Karabakh. As you know, the April 17 elections, Prime Minister of Armenia. Accordingly, the coming to power of newly elected Prime Minister will coincide with the inauguration of the President of Azerbaijan. Despite all the difficulties in relations between the two countries, they need to maintain a constructive dialogue. And the sooner the leaders of neighboring countries will end the campaign and return to normal work, the sooner Armenia and Azerbaijan resume consultations, including on the Karabakh issue.

in 2014, US Ambassador in Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar on the airwaves of national radio, commenting on the situation in Ukraine, quite seriously said that if the government of Azerbaijan will conduct a more assertive policy towards civil society, the Ukrainian Maidan events may recur in Baku. Even if not now, then in 5-10 years. And in the case that civil liberties will be further infringed, it will only increase the risk of recurrence of the Ukrainian events.

not surprisingly, experts say the possibility of US support for Azerbaijani opposition. The Russian scientist Sergei Markov believes that Azerbaijan is one of the keys to a peaceful and stable development of the region. With the rise of conflicts in the middle East, the worsening of relations between the United States on the one hand, and Russia, Turkey and Iran on the other, the United States is unable to support the protest movement in Azerbaijan to destabilize the entire region.

a Similar opinion is shared by Farhad Ibrahimov, believing that the West is able to intervene in the election of the President of Azerbaijan. “The reason is probably the fact that Azerbaijan is building constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with the two main competitors of the United States in the middle East: Russia and Iran, — says the analyst. — It is not like the United States, which in these circumstances are interested in creating new points of tension in the region.”

the Azerbaijani Authorities rightly fear a repetition of the events in Ukraine. Despite the weakness of the opposition, foreign support can be crucial in the event of civil unrest. Therefore, it is believed that Ilham Aliyev worked in advance. The opposition simply did not have time to consolidate under early elections.

not surprisingly, the main opposition forces — the movement “Republican alternative” (REAL), the national Council of democratic forces (NCDF) of Azerbaijan popular front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) in such a situation, in fact gave up the struggle, called for a boycott of the elections and stated that he would not accept the results.